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Posts Tagged ‘renewable’

Did you know that the Brooklyn Children’s Museum has solar panels? Along with the geothermal energy, the solar panels are one renewable source of energy that powers the Museum.

Solar panels work by capturing the sun’s light and turning it into electricity that can power anything you want. The sun produces enough energy in 1 minute to power the world’s energy needs for 1 year… the trick is designing solar panels that can collect all that energy.

At the Museum’s solar exhibit, children can aim a mirror to direct energy from a light source to the solar panels. The solar energy then powers dancing flower toys! Filters in front of the solar panels mimic night, clouds, and pollution, affecting the flowers.

You can find the solar exhibit on our Upper Level, just past the elephant skeleton. And if you look closely out the window from the exhibit, you can see the Museum’s real solar panels.

A rare back view of the Museum where you can see the solar panels - these ones are located outside of the Kids Cafe

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Geothermal energy is one of the cooler concepts in sustainable energy – or maybe it’s one of the hotter concepts! The idea is simple, but the way it works is complicated.

This is the actual drill bit we used to drill down to the aquifers

Basically, somewhere far below the Museum are underground aquifers (underground lakes) with water that remains about 57 degrees Fahrenheit year-round. So, we drilled a hole down to the aquifer and…

  • In the summer, the water is cooler than the hot summer air. We pump water (which is relatively cool) into the building and it cools down the air, reducing the need for air conditioning.
  • In the winter, the waster is warmer than the cold winter air. We pump the same water (relatively warm now) into the building and it warms the air, reducing the need for heating.

The energy required to use the pump is very small, so overall a good geothermal system really reduced the amount of energy you need to heat and cool a building, which is both sustainable and money-saving.

It’s a hard concept to explain to kids, so bring them to the Museum to explore our geothermal exhibit. You will find the exhibit on the Lower Level, next to Fantasia in the Science Inquiry Center.

Turning the dial changes the exhibit from winter to summer and then back

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Did you know that the upstairs floors and the staircases at Brooklyn Children’s Museum are made from bamboo?

Why did we choose bamboo? It’s a renewable resource – bamboo plants grow to full height in only 6 years. They can be harvested and replanted in a fraction of the time it takes hardwood trees to grow.

Our new bamboo exhibit at the Museum explains this to children. At the exhibit you can spin a zoetrope, measure yourself against bamboo, feel bamboo samples, and watch a video of bamboo boards being made!

You can find this new exhibit on the 2nd floor, near the elephant skeleton. And yes, when you are standing at the bamboo exhibit, the ground below you is made of bamboo!!

These girls are spinning the zoetrope to animate pictures that show the relative growth of bamboo and a hardwood tree

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Now that you’ve defined energy with your students, you might want to start introducing sources of energy. To help kids understand fossil fuels, renewable energy, and much more, turn to the resources from NEED, the National Energy Education Development Project.

A sample page from the Primary Energy Infobook

Why? Most of their resources are free. They range from Kindergarten to high school, so all teachers will benefit. The material is comprehensive and well organized. It provides a lot or support for teachers, to help the educator feel comfortable with

Some Primary (grades K-2) resources you might love:

  • Primary Energy Infobook: A well-organized, simple introduction to energy. The book covers the many types of energy and the many sources of energy in kid-friendly language. This resource is particularly good for English Language Learners (ELLs) and students with special needs.
  • A sample page from Using and Saving Energy

    Using and Saving Energy: This extensive curriculum covers energy sources, energy tasks, lighting, heating and cooling, appliances and machines, hot water, using energy, trash and energy, and saving energy. Each section has reading cards and activities for the students as well as extensive background material for teachers. This guide covers more material than the Infobook above.

  • Trash Flipbook: Covers everything you ever wanted to know about trash, including how to make less of it.
  • NEED Songbook: Songs are a great way to get kids engage and help them remember information. Check out these songs all about energy, especially “What Do You Do with an Energy Waster”

For the full list of NEED resources, go to their website!

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